By Rick Reeno
Top Rank's CEO, Bob Arum, advised BoxingScene.com that a featherweight unification between WBA/IBF champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (19-0, 15KOs), and WBO champion Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0, 27KOs), will only happen when the public demand has reached a certain level. Arum tells BoxingScene that he won't allow Lopez-Gamboa to end up like the recent 140-pound unification between unbeatens Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley.
Arum doesn't believe there was any real build-up for the fight, or any real public demand, and points to the low ratings on HBO, and the low attendance at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, as the end result of doing the fight too soon. Alexander-Bradley needed more time to cook and more time to build the names of both fighters, says Arum.
The immediate demand for Alexander-Bradley, says Arum, came from the hardcore fans and the internet writers, which doesn't usually translate into a fight that generates money or captures the interest of the general sports fan. He believes the promoters, and HBO, were pressured into doing the fight too soon.
Lopez returns on April 16 against Orlando Salido in Puerto Rico. Gamboa defends against Jorge Solis on March 26 in Atlantic City.
"[Lopez-Gamboa] will happen when the fans are really demanding the fight. I'm not going to be pushed by a few people, who follow boxing closely and want the fight to happen. That doesn't mean the fight should happen," Arum told BoxingScene.com.
"I want, when the fight happens, for the demand to be there so I know that I can sell out an arena, and not the travesty that just happened with Alexander and Bradley. That was travesty to do that fight with no real build-up, so there was no real demand from the sports fan. That's not going to happen to me. I go by what the demand is for a particular fight, and the demand is not there for a fight between Lopez and Gamboa."
"When the demand reaches a boiling point, where everybody is on board and excited like the New York Times and the news...everybody and not just the website people because that doesn't drive the needle. That was the fault of Alexander and Bradley. It hadn't even reached the consciousness of the public."